A tour of New Zealand would not be complete without a visit to the jaw-dropping Milford Sound, a truly astonishing and magical place, not only one of the most spectacular in New Zealand, but on the entire face of the earth really. While a Milford Sound Cruise might be your final goal to this destination on your New Zealand holiday, in this case the well known saying "it's not only about the destination, but about the journey as well", certainly resonates here.
State highway 94, or also known as the Milford Road, is a two hour, 118km long driving route, and arguably New Zealand's most stunning. The drive lends itself perfect for those touring New Zealand on a self drive tour. There are many incredible vantage points to soak up the majestic scenery, and there are numerous excellent shorter walks en route to Milford Sound as well.
So hit the road, be in for one of the most unforgettable road trips in your life, and do not miss the following on the Milford Road:
1. Te Anau Downs
3. Lake Gunn Nature Walk
This loop track starts at the Cascade Creek carpark and takes you through red beech forest to the shores of Lake Gunn. On the way a variety of mosses and native birds can usually be seen (45mins return).
Spend a day on the world famous Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand's great walks and without a doubt one of the best hikes in New Zealand. The 3-day Routeburn Track is such a popular hike that bookings for staying in huts should be done for sometimes more than 6 months in advance, as spaces are very limited and run out extremely fast.
The walk is a 3.1km return track and passes via a series of spectacular waterfalls. The track then becomes steep in places and does get quite muddy as well, especially after some of Fiordland's notorious rain. From here, it's almost uphill all the time until you reach the lake, which offer marvellous reflections of the surrounding mountains if the weather is calm.
Be careful not to walk around the lake's edge during winter and early spring, when there is a risk for avalanches.
6. Homer Tunnel
Before the Homer Tunnel is also the start of the Gertrude Saddle track, and this one is not for the faint hearted. A strenuous route without signed markers, but with incredibly rewarding views. Only for seriously experienced hikers.
7. Humboldt Falls
About 17km off the main road into the Hollyfor valley road, a 30 minute hike takes you to a viewpoint overlooking New Zealand's highest waterfall, the Humboldt Falls.
8. Mirror Lakes
9. The Chasm
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